The 13-year-old lion was not only a tourist favorite, but also, a research animal. The beloved lion was being studied by the Oxford University Conservation Unit.
At least 10 people were killed in a suicide bombing on a busy intersection of the Syrian capital today. State TV say this is the second suicide attack in two weeks, and is blaming the attack on terrorists.
Last month, more than 40 people were killed in similar bombings, attacks the opposition accused the government of staging. Syria’s state media, SANA, said the initial death toll for the recent bombing is 25 people. The figure includes 10 people confirmed dead and the remains of an estimated 15 others.
Interior Minister Mohammed Shaar said a suicide bomber “detonated himself with the aim of killing the largest number of people.”
In a sign of Syrian polarization, the opposition has questioned the allegations that terrorists are behind the attacks – suggesting the regime itself could have been behind the violence to try to erode support for the uprising and show the observer team that it is a victim in the country’s upheaval.
The government has long contended that the turmoil in Syria this year is not an uprising but the work of terrorists and foreign-backed armed gangs.
“The government has been smashing the opposition and using ever greater force. So we’re going to see greater and greater resorts to desperate measures like car bombings
John Landis, the director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma says in addition to the anger towards the Assad regime, there are ethnic tensions with the country. Additionally, it’s possible Al-Qaeda is responsible for the attacks.
“Al-Qaeda is in the region,” says Landis. “It’s in Iraq. American’s are saying Al-Qaeda is responsible for some of the car bombings that are going on there. But, it would not hard to imagine Al-Qaeda penetrating Syria.”
But Landis adds: “We have no clue if that’s right or not.”
The two most recent bombing are the latest signal of the deteriorating situation in Syria. Landis says the stalemate between the government and the opposition has “extremely frustrated” activists in the country.
“The government has been smashing the opposition and using ever greater force,” says Landis. “So we’re going to see greater and greater resorts to desperate measures like car bombings.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.